Introduction, Design Features
If you’re shopping for an inexpensive all-in-one (AIO) for your family or home office, you may have a hard time choosing the best one from so many models. Should it be fast, inexpensive to operate, or have the best print quality? Should it be compact, but still handle legal-size paper? Should it be compatible with a wide range of photo papers? Or maybe you want some of the document-handling features associated with workgroup AIOs? Unfortunately, you can’t have it all, especially if you want to keep the purchase price as low as possible.
That brings us to the Canon Pixma TR8520 Wireless Home Office All-in-One, the company’s replacement for the venerable Pixma MX922 Home Office All-in-One. Like the MX922, the TR8520 ($199.99 before an easy-to-find $50 discount online) emphasizes print quality over document handling. And like the MX922, it isn’t the fastest or cheapest to operate. If high speed and low ink costs are more important to you than print quality, you might consider an AIO that costs more or skews more toward business needs and high-volume printing.
In its favor, the TR8520 does offer enough document features to make it a good choice where those features are needed only occasionally, rather than on a daily basis. It supports a wide range of connection options, including Wi-Fi, Ethernet, Bluetooth 4.0, and PictBridge. And the TR8520 has a 20-sheet automatic document feeder (ADF), though its practical use is limited by its inability to auto-duplex your copies and scans.
Also in its favor: a five-color ink cartridge system with both pigment- and dye-based blacks. Having separate black cartridges can provide better results when you switch between plain and photo paper. The 4.3-inch color touch screen is another plus for photography enthusiasts. You can preview your photos (in either JPEG or TIFF format) before choosing which ones to print. Finally, the front and rear paper input slots allow you to simultaneously load two different types of paper. You might have 10 sheets of 5×7-inch photo paper in the rear paper tray, while resting 100 sheets of letter-size plain paper in the front cassette.
All in all, the Pixma TR8520 is a worthy upgrade to the MX922. It could be an excellent choice for a family or home office that needs some document-handling features, but is mostly interested in having superior print quality, especially with graphics and photos.
Canon Pixma TS9120 Wireless All-in-One, the control interface on the Pixma TR8520 is embedded into a panel that spans almost the full width of the unit. The functional components are clustered in the middle. There’s a power button and associated indicator light. There’s a small fax memory light that illuminates when the TR8520 has fax documents (either received or unsent) in memory. And there’s a bright and easy-to-navigate 4.3-inch color touch screen that makes this particular model an excellent pick for non-technical users.
Among the major printer manufacturers, Canon tends to lead the way with its thoughtful and streamlined user interfaces that are both simple and functional. Too often, you have to consult the user manual or press an icon to see what it does. The home screen on this menu system needs no explanation. The four large buttons have both icons and text to highlight the major functions: Copy, Fax, Scan, and Print. And the four smaller buttons don’t need any text, as their secondary functions are self-explanatory. They lead to the wireless, cloud, settings, and help functions.
As you would expect for an AIO designed for home use, the options and configuration settings lack the kind of employee and project tracking that corporations might require from a workgroup AIO. In their place, Canon provides a full regimen of maintenance routines that can help you extend the life and preserve the image quality of the printer. These include routines to print a nozzle check pattern, clean the nozzles, start a deep cleaning of the print mechanisms, begin an auto head alignment, initiate a roller cleaning, and perform a bottom plate cleaning. Any inkjet printer can become finicky over time, so these kinds of maintenance routines could prove to be valuable.
Setup Paper Handling
We had no major issues when setting up this AIO. First you’ll have to remove the packing materials and restraining tape. The printed Getting Started guide then instructs you to plug in and turn on the printer. From there, you can use the animated instructions on the LCD panel to step you through the remaining procedures.
After you’ve installed the five ink cartridges into their color-coded slots, the printer will begin its internal initialization process. It will print a print head alignment sheet that you’ll need to place onto the scanner glass so the printer can fine-tune the position of the print head. You’ll then be able to choose the type of connection that you’ll be using between the TR8520 and your computer—USB, Wi-Fi, or Ethernet.
We did hit a slight speed bump at this point. We downloaded the latest drivers and utilities from Canon’s Web site. But when it came time to connect the printer to our Wi-Fi network, the installation software was unable to complete the task because the TR8520 doesn’t support 5GHz Wi-Fi connections. That wouldn’t be a problem with most Wi-Fi routers, but in this case, the Eero mesh network that we were using had automatically configured itself for 5GHz, as opposed to 2.4GHz, because all the connected devices were 5GHz compatible.
To Canon’s credit, the installation software suggested that we connect the TR8520 to our computer using a USB cable so that the Wi-Fi configuration settings could be transferred directly to the printer. Sure enough, after a pause for the data to transfer, we were instructed to disconnect the cable. From that point on, the Pixma had no difficulty communicating wirelessly with the Eero network.
The Canon’s paper requirements are relatively straightforward. Both the rear paper tray and front paper cassette can handle as many as 100 sheets of plain paper at a time. Both can also handle 10 envelopes at a time. If you want to use photo paper, you’ll need to load it into the rear paper tray, which can handle as many as 20 sheets of 4×6-inch photo paper at a time. Alternatively, it can hold 10 sheets of 5×7-inch or 8×10-inch photo paper.
You may want to keep the TR8520 close at hand, because the paper output tray is small. It can hold only 50 sheets of plain paper at a time. That number drops to 10 sheets if you’re printing on legal-size paper. And if you’re using photo paper, it drops to just three sheets—or really just one, as Canon recommends that you remove each sheet as it prints to avoid smearing or discoloration.
The built-in ADF can hold 20 sheets of plain paper at a time. And while the TR8520 supports automated dual-sided printing (which is great for saving paper), this model doesn’t support automated dual-sided copying or scanning with the ADF. You’ll have to manually flip the sheets if you want to copy or scan your dual-sided documents.